Book Reviews From The Bookbag

From TheBookbag
Revision as of 12:46, 12 January 2021 by Alex (talk | contribs)
Jump to navigationJump to search

Reviews by readers from all the many walks of literary life. With author interviews, features and top tens. You'll be sure to find something you'll want to read here. Dig in!

Find us on Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter, Follow us on Instagram Instagram and LinkedIn

There are currently 15,587 reviews at TheBookbag.

Want to find out more about us?

The Best New Books

Read new reviews by category.

Read the latest features.

Read reviews of books about to be published.

0241376947.jpg

Review of

The Cousins by Karen M McManus

5star.jpg General Fiction

The rich and famous Story family led a life of luxury on Gull Cove Island, until 25 years ago when each of the Story children - Anders, Archer, Adam and Allison - received a mysterious letter from their mother and were cut off completely. But now, a quarter of a century later, their children have been called to return to the island for the summer by their grandmother. What does she want with the cousins? Why did she cut off her children all those years ago? Are the deaths on Gull Cove Island really what they seem? The dark web of twisted lies, secrets and tragedy that has held the Story family up - and held them apart - for a quarter of a century is about to come crashing down. Full Review

1786495902.jpg

Review of

The Natural Health Service: How Nature Can Mend Your Mind by Isabel Hardman

5star.jpg Lifestyle

Isabel Hardman suffered a trauma which she chooses not to share. She says that a friend who does know, burst into tears and health-care professionals' jaws have sagged in disbelief. Hardman dealt with this at the time by 'keeping going': the next day she went to work to cover the budget, next there was the EU referendum, the political party leadership contests and then it was party conference season. One night she had to be sedated and returned home to begin long-term sick leave. That was what brought me to this book: 2020 was the year when the bins went out more often than I did. Full Review

1781129002.jpg

Review of

The Ghost Garden by Emma Carroll and Kaja Kajfez

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Fran, the gardener's daughter at a posh country house, is worried. She's just cracked her garden fork through quite a grim discovery - a large bone, buried under the potatoes. But she's even more worried when she learns that that event coincided with Leo, the older child of the house, breaking his leg while playing cricket on the lawn. She is due to get even more worried when she finds something else that also seems to foretell a surprise. Tasked with shoving Leo around the grounds in his bathchair, she might have reason to be out of her mind with fear, when she learns what he is seeking - a long-forgotten burial chamber. But surely that won't act as a premonition to anything - not here in the sultry, summery days of 1914? Full Review

Reed3.jpg

Review of

Why You? 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again (3rd Edition) by James Reed

5star.jpg Business and Finance

Six years on from the original edition, the book is being re-issued with a bonus chapter entitled The Future of Work which includes an additional 10 questions. I've come to this some 6 years after reviewing the original book and my life has changed significantly in the meantime. I'm no longer working in middle-management having opted for a down-shift into reduced hours freelancing to enable me to focus on other (not necessarily paying) work. I can therefore relate to the first point made in this chapter namely that independence and flexibility are core skills that employees need to have. Full Review

1838772650.jpg

Review of

The Captive by Deborah O'Connor

4star.jpg Thrillers

Hannah knows the cage, intimately. It lurks in the corner of her eye. Soon, it will be occupied. Then what? What if he speaks to her? What if he escapes? What if he hurts her? What if she hurts him? Full Review

B08CR3WNFT.jpg

Review of

The Therapist by B A Paris

5star.jpg Thrillers

When Leo Curtis found the house in The Circle, a gated community, Alice Dawson was in Venice. Leo wanted to move quickly on the property as it was on the market at such a reasonable price that Alice wouldn't have to sell her cottage in Harlestone for them to be able to afford it. Alice agreed - she was tired of their long-distance relationship. Now they would be able to spend most of the week together instead of just the weekends. Leo had some work done on the house: he made two bedrooms into one and although Alice knew that the house was stunning she just didn't feel comfortable there. Full Review

1406395404.jpg

Review of

The Awesome Power of Sleep: How Sleep Super-Charges Your Teenage Brain by Nicola Morgan

5star.jpg Teens

2020 has been a strange year: I doubt anyone would argue with that statement. Lots of our routines have been completely dismantled and for some teenagers this will have brought about sleep problems. Some teens will dismiss this as irrelevant ('who needs sleep? - I've got loads to be doing) and others will worry unnecessarily. Most people, from children to adults will have the odd bad night but worrying about your lack of sleep is only likely to make it worse. And there's also the fact that for far too long, lack of sleep has been lauded as a virtue and sleep made to seem like laziness. Being up early, working late has been praised and the ability to survive on little sleep has almost become something to put on your CV. Full Review

000820831X.jpg

Review of

The Coffinmaker's Garden by Stuart MacBride

4star.jpg Crime

At the coastal village of Clachmara, the headland is slowly eroding into the sea. Storm Trevor speeds up the process. A ship - the Ocean-Gold Harvester is stuck on the rocks and young Alfie Compton cannot resist sneaking out of the house to see what's happening. Margaret runs after her son and as she grabs him to pull him back to safety she glances across at the newly-exposed cliff front and sees human bones. Gordon Smith's home is falling into the North Sea and the evidence of what he's been doing for decades is going with it - except for what Ash Henderson of LIRU can grab as he later escapes the tumbling ruin. Full Review

B08BC4D58S.jpg

Review of

Winterkill (Dark Iceland) by Ragnar Jonasson

4star.jpg Crime

Ari Thor Arason is the police inspector in Siglufjordur and he's still living in the house on Eyrargata which he shared with his wife Kristin and son Stefnir before Kristin left to go to Sweden to do a Masters degree, taking three-year-old Stefnir with her. They were supposed to spend Christmas together but Kristin cancelled. It's now the Thursday of Holy Week and his family is due to arrive in Siglufjordur that afternoon. Ari Thor is having trouble sleeping but when he finally managed to get to sleep the phone rings: the body of a young woman has been found on Adalgata, the main street of the town. Full Review

3110641291.jpg

Interview

The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Olga Kokshagina and Allen Alexander

Sue was so impressed by The Radical Innovation Playbook: A Practical Guide for Harnessing New, Novel or Game-Changing Breakthroughs by Olga Kokshagina and Allen Alexander that she wished that she had a good business idea of her own so that she could use the book. Perhaps that was what she was talking about when Olga and Allen popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us. Interview

B08KGVNVNB.jpg

Review of

His Name Was Wren by Rob Winters

4star.jpg Confident Readers

In September 1944 something came down in Oban Woods, near the village of Hurstwick. It came down hard, taking the spire of the village church with it, destroying a stone shack, and leaving a wide trail through the wood, but no trace of what it actually was. German secret weapon was the local gossip, but there should have been an explosion and a crater, and there were neither of those things. Full Review

2952163855.jpg

Review of

The Spy Who Inspired Me by Stephen Clarke

4star.jpg General Fiction

This is a spoof spy story, that isn't about James Bond. Or Ian Fleming. But it features a man called Ian Lemming, who dresses well and 'likes the ladies' and who works for the secret service, but in the planning side of things more than the active service. Lemming finds himself put on a mission with a female spy called Margaux, and the pair end up stranded in Normandy, with Margaux on a desperate mission to unearth traitors in the resistance network, and Lemming desperately trying to keep up with her! Full Review

3110706075.jpg

Review of

Making a Difference: Leadership, Change and Giving Back the Independent Director Way by Gerry Brown

4star.jpg Business and Finance

You're not there to run the organisation. You are there to make sure that it is run properly.

Gerry Brown is passionate about the benefits which Independent Directors can bring to a board - not just a corporate board, but the board of an NHS Trust, a university, a sports organisation or a charity. He's particularly keen that there's increased diversity on these boards and feels that this would help to avoid some of the scandals (Oxfam, Kids Company - we're thinking about you) which have occurred in recent years. For this to happen, boards need to have a wider field of people to choose from when they're looking for an ID. Full Review

1786495902.jpg

Review of

The Natural Health Service: How Nature Can Mend Your Mind by Isabel Hardman

5star.jpg Lifestyle

Isabel Hardman suffered a trauma which she chooses not to share. She says that a friend, who does know, burst into tears and health-care professionals' jaws have sagged in disbelief. Hardman dealt with this at the time by 'keeping going': the next day she went to work to cover the budget, next there was the EU referendum, the political party leadership contests and then it was party conference season. One night she had to be sedated and returned home to begin long-term sick leave. That was what brought me to this book: 2020 was the year when the bins went out more often than I did. Full Review

3030513025.jpg

Review of

The Independent Director in Society: Our current crisis of governance and what to do by Gerry Brown, Andrew Kakabadse and Filipe Morais

5star.jpg Business and Finance

Independent Director: a job for which no one is qualified (Financial Times)

Independent Director: An independent director is a member of the board of directors who (1) do not have a material relationship with the company, (2) is not part of the company's executive team, and (3) is not involved with the day-to-day operations of the company. (Corporate Finance Institute)

Gerry Brown, Andrew Kakabadse and Filipe Morais feel that the relationship between the executive members of boards and the independent directors (formerly known as non-executive directors), trustees or governors of organisations is frequently unbalanced. The function of the independent director is to have general oversight of the executive side of the board - to spot when and where things are going wrong - but all too often the relationship is too cosy, too antagonistic or the independent director lacks the knowledge and/or experience to understand what's happening or to know how to intervene. Covid-19 has highlighted the failings and weaknesses of leadership and governance and you might be tempted to think that these are extraordinary times and that all will be well once we get back to 'normal' but a pandemic was predicted and modelled in the past and there has been a general failure to prepare for what has happened - and is still happening. Full Review

B002SQCYWQ.jpg

Review of

The Complete Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope

5star.jpg Literary Fiction

When I told my daughter that I didn't know what to listen to now that I'd finished The Complete Novels of Jane Austen for the second time on the trot she had the perfect answer: The Barchester Chronicles and they were in my inbox in a matter of minutes. They're not quite as well known as the Austen books but they're an excellent follow on. Full Review

0008214468.jpg

Review of

A Time to Lie by Simon Berthon

5star.jpg Thrillers

A workman has a nasty surprise when he pulls a package out of an excavation on a building site. It's wrapped in part of an old shower curtain and is a hand, severed above the wrist. It's been there for about twenty-five to thirty-five years.

Robin Sandford - generally known as Robbie - is Prime Minister. He's married to heiress Carol van Koon and they have two daughters, Becca and Bella. Sandford's determined to be a better type of politician: he wants a government that is not just practically good, but morally good. One of the ways he's planning on going about this is to ban arms sales to dubious regimes. Henry Morland-Cross, the Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, wishes that he'd been warned about this: it's easy to see that he wouldn't have been in agreement. Full Review

B077K6BQFD.jpg

Review of

The Complete Novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion by Jane Austen

5star.jpg Literary Fiction

Yes - that's over eighty-one hours of listening for the purchase of one audio book. All six major novels are read by conmedienne Alison Larkin and they're presented in the order in which they were published. Full Review

0241453585.jpg

Review of

Banking On It: How I Disrupted an Industry by Anne Boden

5star.jpg Business and Finance

Anne Boden had an impressive track record in the financial services sector: she had thirty years experience at a senior level including Group Chief Operating Officer at Allied Irish Bank. AIB was in the throes of recovering from the 2008 financial crisis when she arrived and she was one of the first to realise that banks needed to do things differently. AIB thought it was at the cutting edge when it proposed opening a branch which allowed customers to access their accounts via a terminal. Boden took things a step further, realising that customers could access their accounts from their homes: the old branch network, employing thousands of people, would soon become redundant. Full Review

1538733625.jpg

Review of

The Book of Moods by Lauren Martin

5star.jpg Lifestyle

I was in a great mood when I first learnt of this book, and because sarcasm doesn't always translate well into writing, imagine the word great being delivered with an eye roll and a sigh, through clenched teeth. I had spent the best part of a rainy, windy weekend afternoon out on the water at our local sailing club in the rescue rib, on standby in case anyone who was racing needed support. It's a volunteer duty we all do during the year, and normally I'm happy to, but that day the weather was miserable and I was miserable, and it all came to a head that evening when I noticed on the website that we had been thanked for our time as "Dave and wife". Wow. I had never needed this book more. Full Review

014135609X.jpg

Review of

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

5star.jpg Teens

Sixteen-year-old Simon Spier has a great life. He has a close group of friends, a loving family, and even an adorable dog. But he has a secret: he's gay. Only one person knows this, and that's Blue – a boy who he has been emailing almost daily since he found out that there was another closeted guy at his school. Their emails are a safe space for Simon; it's his own private universe without the fear of being judged. Until one day, these emails fall into the wrong hands, and everything Simon knows is turned upside down. Full Review

3110641119.jpg

Review of

The Journey Mapping Playbook: A Practical Guide to Preparing, Facilitating and Unlocking the Value of Customer Journey Mapping by Jerry Angrave

5star.jpg Business and Finance

I had no idea what 'journey mapping' was until I read this playbook but any business that engages with their customers will benefit from reading the book and acting on the contents. You're going to learn how to run a workshop to discover what it feels like to be one of your own customers. At this point, please don't say 'oh (expletive deleted) not another workshop' because this is going to be fun and you're going to be surprised by what emerges. Full Review

3110641291.jpg

Review of

The Radical Innovation Playbook: A Practical Guide for Harnessing New, Novel or Game-Changing Breakthroughs by Olga Kokshagina and Allen Alexander

5star.jpg Business and Finance

So, why bother? Every time you set out to do something new you end up with the same thing in a slightly different form and quite a bit of money spent. Why not just leave it as it is? After all, it's roughly working, isn't it?

You might not have said it, but you've probably thought it. You've also thought the small, incremental improvements which you have been able to make - the optimisation of your core business with cost efficiencies wherever possible, the extension of your existing products into new areas - haven't really delivered in terms of growth. It's been manageable and largely risk-free but you could easily be challenged by a competitor who takes a more radical approach. You've merely kept the business ticking over and there's a nagging suspicion in the back of your mind that an organisation designed for the twentieth century might not survive in the twenty-first. What you need is innovation - radical innovation. Full Review

1472962044.jpg

Review of

Creating Value Through Technology: Discover the Tech that Can Transform Your Business by Andrew Hampshire

4.5star.jpg Business and Finance

I was once told that 'technology' is anything that happens after you're eighteen, so there's been a lot of technology in my life. I once worked for a manager who judged if an accountant was reputable by establishing whether or not they had a typewriter. Times - thankfully - have moved on. Nowadays the problem is that someone running a business doesn't have the time to keep up with constant innovation and they might also be scared because previous IT investments haven't delivered as expected. It's also a fact that no one develops a business because they have the knowledge of the required technology, so they start off in conversations about technology feeling that they're at a disadvantage. They need help, but they frequently don't know what help they need. Full Review

B08LY8J4KS.jpg

Review of

Note to Self: An Education by Mark Lingane

4star.jpg Science Fiction

In Kry's world, the discovery that human cells replace themselves every seven years results in a cascade of medical "advances": in 2030 it's found that radiation can return cells back to their regeneration state seven years before, in 2035 it's possible to cure cancerous tumours but with the side effect of erasing seven years of memory, by 2045 the cosmetics industry is using the same technique to "de-age" their customers by seven years. In a society obsessed with image and youth, who needs memories? Full Review

1838770046.jpg

Review of

Body Language by A K Turner

4.5star.jpg Crime

Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Raven is the senior mortuary technician and not only does she talk to the dead, she also hears what they have to say to her. It's not something she's inclined to share with people as she's pretty certain about what their reaction will be. She's certainly not going to share it with the new pathologist, Dr Archie Chuff, wearer of a genuine Barbour jacket and old Harrovian. He's very conscious of his position and isn't even inclined to ask for the view of the anatomical pathology technicians despite the fact that they have a lot more experience than him and he has only a limited amount of time to spend on each body. That will prove to be a mistake. Full Review